House style for military character names when credits do not give them

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Older films, especially B pictures from the 1950s and 60s, often list only the actors' names in the opening titles and do not have a character-and-actor cast list - because they don't have a closing credits sequence other than just a caption "The End".

In this situation, IMDB uses character names that are inferred from dialogue.

When no character names are given, is there any house style for military ranks (eg "Sergeant" versus "Sgt", "Colonel" versus "Col", "Staff Sergeant" versus "SSgt" etc): are the ranks given the full word or the usual abbreviation?
Photo of Martin


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Posted 10 months ago

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Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

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Well, we start with, to get a general idea, but as we can see the guidelines do not account for all circumstances.

If a character's given name and family name are revealed (directly or indirectly) in the movie, then he/she should be listed by name without any titles, salutations or embellishments, especially if the character has been or will be promoted or demoted to another salutation or none at all. If a character is known only by a pairing of title and a single name (forename or surname, or just "name"), then we might want to shrink the title down to just one word or an abbreviation, so "Staff Sergeant Hunt" should probably be shortened to either "Sergeant Hunt" or "SSgt Hunt", the latter if it is important to convey precision. Since the example only amounts to three names/words, "Staff Sergeant Hunt" might also be fine. If there is no ambiguity, then just "Hunt" would be fine too. We should try to keep it as consistent (throughout a given character list) as possible, whatever the case. There is no need to abbreviate "General", "Admiral", "Colonel", "Major", "Captain", "Commander", "Lieutenant", "Sergeant", "Ensign", "Corporal" or "Private", "Seaman" or "Airman". Salutations like "Master Chief Petty Officer" would best be abbreviated, especially if a distinction among MCPO, MCPON and MCPOCG is to be made.

The aforementioned is all in regards to movies that do not identify the character names or actors' roles in the on-screen credits.
Photo of Marco


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Given the fact that IMDb has an international audience, I would strongly advice against the usage of abbreviations like col or sgt because it is safe to assume not everybody knows what it means. And in the case of col, one might think it's someone's name instead of someone's rank.